Was Case Keenum the wrong choice for the Denver Broncos?

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 16: Quarterback Case Keenum #4 of the Denver Broncos throws as he warms up before a game against the Oakland Raiders at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on September 16, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 16: Quarterback Case Keenum #4 of the Denver Broncos throws as he warms up before a game against the Oakland Raiders at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on September 16, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

The Denver Broncos needed to reset the franchise at the quarterback position. Did they make the right decision in Case Keenum?

This week’s Monday Night Football match-up presents an interesting comparison at quaterback. Patrick Mahomes is a first round talent setting the league on fire through his first few starts for the Kansas City Chiefs.

For the home team, the Denver Broncos, Case Keenum will be the signal caller, a free agent brought in to stabilize the team’s biggest weakness in the offseason. In March, Keenum signed a two-year, $36 million contract with the Broncos. It was the biggest offseason decision for the Broncos, but did they make the right call and use the team’s resources wisely?

Broncos 2017 Quarterback Situation

Denver had arguably the worst QB situation in football last year: a quarterback carousel. Trevor Siemian was announced starter in the preseason of 2017, Brock Osweiler was named starter in Week 9 and then Paxton Lynch was named starter in Week 12. Then back to Osweiler in Week 13 and Lynch in Week 17. Oh, boy.

The Broncos missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season and finished the season 5-11—their worst record since 2010 when they went 4-12. They had an 8-game losing streak and were No. 17 overall in offense. No wonder they were looking for consistency for the 2018 season. But did they find it?

What they saw in Case Keenum

This seven-year veteran helped the Minnesota Vikings reach the NFC Championship Game last season after Sam Bradford injured his knee in Week 1. Keenum completed 67.6 percent of his passes, had a career-best of a 98.3 QB rating and averaged one touchdown per game with only seven interceptions the entire season. I say ‘only’ because he has already thrown five the first three games of this 2018 season. So far, Keenum has a completion percentage of 61 percent and a QB rating of 71.6. He has thrown three touchdowns, all in Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks.

Keenum is known to fluctuate wildly and this is why Vikings coach Mike Zimmer wasn’t sold on this signal caller, but John Elway decided that he’d gotten his man.

A Chance to Sign Kirk Cousins or Alex Smith

Other quarterbacks in discussion of possibly being the starter for the Broncos were Kirk Cousins and Alex Smith. Cousins has taken Keenum’s spot with the Vikings, and Smith has taken Cousins’ spot for the Washington Redskins—a game of musical chairs.

Although Cousins was close to going to Denver, the Vikings offered him a three-year, $84 million contract that would guarantee his stability and long-term security of staying in one area to raise his kids. In the 2017 season, Cousins threw 27 touchdowns with a QB rating of 93.9. He has been a consistent quarterback with a 97.9 the past four years, whereas Keenum’s is 83.5.

Cousins was ranked No. 1 in the Top 101 Free Agents in 2018 list while Keenum was sitting at No. 10. Not too bad, but the Broncos still let Cousins slip through their fingers. In QB Rankings of 2018 so far, Smith is No. 11, Cousins is No. 19 and Keenum is No. 22.

Speaking of the other quarterback the Broncos let slip through their fingers, Smith went to the Washington Redskins in a trade instead of Denver. The Broncos reportedly offered the Chiefs a second-round pick and now Los Angeles Rams cornerback Aqib Talib, but he was instead dealt to Washington. He soon signed a four-year, $94 million contract with the Redskins.

Last year in Kansas City, this 13-year veteran threw 26 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and had a QB rating of 104.7. This year, he has thrown four touchdowns, one interception and has a QB rating of 102.2. Not only did the Broncos not get a deal done with either of these QBs with great track records, they ignored other free agents and rookie quarterbacks too.

Broncos Draft Choices

Days after signing Keenum, Broncos personnel were seen at the Pro Days for some of the top rookie quarterback prospects, including Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen. But in the draft, they didn’t choose a quarterback in any round. They made solid choices in Bradley Chubb, Courtland Sutton and Royce Freeman for the first few rounds, but they didn’t jump on the opportunity to snag a potentially great QB.

What the Broncos Future Looks Like

As of right now, signing Keenum instead of other QBs doesn’t look to be the best choice the Broncos have made. But there is promise when a quarterback’s fourth quarter stats include a 72.7 percent completion rate and a 93.5 QB rating with two game-winning comeback drives. Broncos are also just No. 11 in the NFL in offense.

Broncos second-year head coach Vance Joseph believes Keenum will play “better with time” and he is not concerned because he sees the “many good things” Keenum does during the game.

As far as the Broncos season is going, the Broncos are depending on their defense to pull them through the wins. The world-class defense may, once again, be forced to do the heavy lifting this season to get them to the playoffs again. If this is the case, they better try harder on ‘improving their quarterback situation in the offseason’ next year.